Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Kelvin Cochran settlement

Kelvin Cochran
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On Monday, Atlanta's city council voted to pay ousted fire chief Kelvin Cochran $1.2 million. An undisclosed portion of that sum will be used to reimburse Alliance Defending Freedom (an anti-LGBT hate group) and others for legal fees.

In addition to ADF, Cochran was represented by two Georgia lawyers: Garland Raphael Hunt of Hunt Associates and Jonathan Dean Crumly, Sr. of Taylor English Duma. How much is going to be left over for Cochran is unknown.

Cochran, you might recall, self-published a highly offensive book which he distributed to some employees of the fire department. In his book, Cochran compared homosexuality to bestiality. He also called gay people perverts. Cochran was terminated in late 2014 and litigation has been ongoing since early 2015.

Last December a federal district court judge ruled that the city's policy of requiring prior permission to write the book and create an additional source of revenue for himself was probably unconstitutional.

However, at the same time the judge ruled that Cochran was an “at-will” employee who could be terminated for any lawful reason. The judge came to several other conclusions favorable to the city. ADF was proceeding under the theory that Cochran was the victim of religious discrimination. In ADF-World there is always a Christian victim, usually of the Homosexual Agenda™.

So why the settlement?

It all boiled down to projected ongoing legal fees and the potential for a more sizable award. The longer this dragged on, the more legal fees the city would have to pay. As of September, 2018 (the most recent action) there were 192 items on the docket and the judge was urging the parties to settle the matter.

The calculus is just the opposite for Alliance Defending Freedom. The longer this dragged on, the more money they could raise off the matter.

If the city won, ADF would appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. This had the potential to go on for another five years. As for Cochran, prior to his dismissal in November, 2014. he was already seeking another job. He was in negotiations to become Assistant Chief Administrative officer of an undisclosed city. The offer was rescinded when he was terminated by Atlanta. His employment history over nearly four years is unknown.

Not only is he a known religious zealot but he sued his last employer. There is no assurance that he would not use another employer as a pulpit of convenience.

Obviously Cochran was not reinstated, as was originally demanded, and Atlanta has not changed its policies. The original demands would have had the effect of making religious proselytizing on city time acceptable.

Were Cochran paying legal fees out of his pocket, he probably would have folded his tent when the judge determined that his status was “at-will.”

However, that was not the case. The taxpayers were best served by a relatively modest settlement.

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